Mental Health Reform condemns continued admission of children to adult inpatient units

Mental Health Reform is reacting with concern to the Government’s announcement to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), that children with mental health difficulties will continue to be admitted into adult inpatient units.

The national coalition for mental health said that the Government is failing to meet its obligations to children under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) by continuing to allow this practice.

The latest figures show that 19 children were admitted to adult inpatient units in 2022. Last year, the number of inpatient CAMHS beds reduced from 56 to 51. The number of inpatient beds available is almost half the recommended level.

Mental Health Reform and its members, the ISPCC, Pieta, Children’s Rights Alliance, BelongTo, Shine, A Lust for Life and ADHD Ireland are attending the Dáil’s debate on Thursday evening in Leinster House to highlight the need for radical improvements to mental health services for children and young people.

Róisín Clarke, Interim CEO, Mental Health Reform said: “We are deeply disappointed that children with mental health difficulties will continue to be admitted to adult inpatient units. This practice is in contravention of a child’s human rights. An adult inpatient unit can be a frightening environment for a child or young person in distress. The Government’s decision contradicts the UNCRC’s indication that this practice should be ceased.

2023 will see the reform of the Mental Health Act, 2001. Due to gaps in the legislation, the Act is significantly out of line with the UNCRC. We are calling for an express provision in the legislation that prohibits the admission of children to adult units.

We welcome the Government’s response to the Mental Health Commission’s Interim Report on CAMHS. The review of open CAMHS cases alongside the commitment to recruit a National Lead for Youth Mental Health and National Lead for Child Psychiatry are positive measures that will help to improve mental health services for children and young people.

While we welcome these developments, we reiterate our call for the reinstatement of a National Director for Mental Health reporting directly to the new CEO of the HSE. This is key to ensuring the high level of governance and oversight that is urgently required.

We need ambition and political will to deliver critical changes in CAMHS. The reform of the Mental Health Act, 2001 is a crucial opportunity to address the gaps in our mental health law and protect the rights of children with mental health difficulties. Reform must be progressed without delay.”

For additional supports please call the HSE YourMentalHealth Information Line on freephone 1800 111 888, any time day or night.

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